Andrew Silk visits Turkey
Solo holidays are in the news – more and more people are choosing to go on holiday alone. Perhaps this is as a result of travelers becoming more confident in their abilities to venture out alone, perhaps its peoples incessant search for adventure, for new experiences or perhaps it’s a refusal to accept that, just because you are single, you won’t travel and see the places in the world that you have always wanted to visit.
Whatever the reason, solo holidays are the current big thing, just do a simple internet search and you will be amazed at all the choices that flash up on your computer screen – in fact so many you could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed.
And guess what – you don’t even have to be single to go on one! Yes, that’s right – solo holidays are for all types of travelers, not just those free and easy singles. It might be that you are married or in a relationship but that your significant other is unable to travel with you because of work commitments, ill-health or they might simply not be interested in going to the same places as you are – whatever the reason travelling solo is the answer.
Except that you don’t travel solo – well not if you go on a dedicated singles holidays with an experienced solo holidays operator – and to test out just how different, or not, these holidays were, I recently had the pleasure of travelling to Turkey as guest of one of the largest solo holiday operators in the UK – Solos Holidays.
What to expect?
Well, quite understandably, when arriving in your resort, I was based in the quite historic village of Kayaköy, just under an hour’s drive from Dalaman Airport you have a sense of trepidation and a degree of nervousness. Some of the questions you might be asking yourself are what will it be like? Have I done the right thing? Will I get on with my fellow guests? Will there be enough to keep me occupied?
Well you needn’t worry – after all remember that everyone else is in the same boat as you and are probably thinking the same things and asking themselves the same questions. The hotel was the Kayaköy Boutique Hotel on the edge of the village. The first thing you notice on arrival is that it doesn’t feel like an hotel at all – it has a nice relaxed vibe, is not over bearing and actually feels like it could be your own private little villa set in the Turkish countryside.
The rooms here are enormous, and remember you have a double room all to yourself it being a singles holiday. Oh, and remember those questions that you asked yourself earlier? Well you needn’t have worried, the hotel is exclusively for Solos Holidays travelers so everyone else is travelling alone and with the same holiday company as you.
And this actually proves to be an advantage because everyone is actually curious about who their fellow travelers are, conversation strikes up easily, especially when sat around the relaxing outside bar, and people actually make an effort to engage with each other – after all you are going to be seeing each other every day for the duration of your stay.
And what about my fellow guests?
Well, you might very well be surprised. There is a good mix of people and whilst it is true that the age of travelers tend to be in the 50+ age range, that’s not exclusively so. Likewise, there was an almost equal mix between the two sexes which made for a balanced group with nobody being left out. One of the nicer things about travelling with Solos Holidays is that the group tends to eat together each evening which sounds simple, but it actually is very important. One of the big complaints about travelling solo is the fact that you eat alone in the evenings and once the sun goes down it can be quite a lonely experience. Not here, you tend to gravitate towards having dinner with the “group” or with one or two fellow travelers with whom you have bonded.
One evening is also taken up with an organised visit to a local restaurant for dinner – again there is no obligation to attend but most people do.
What to do?
This is the beauty of a solos holiday. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to – there’s a lovely pool with plenty of comfortable sunbeds, and even a hammock that you can just lounge around and enjoy during the day, go for a dip when you want, get a drink from the bar when you are thirsty, read your book, talk to your fellow guests or simply just relax and fall asleep as you see fit – the ambience and atmosphere encourages all of these. And the best thing of all about this is that there are no kids screaming and shouting to disturb the peace and quiet – remember it’s a singles holidays so no children to be seen other than the grown up ones!
But there is also plenty to explore, not just in the local village but also in the surrounding area and trips are offered throughout the duration of your holiday which are organised for you by your Solos Holidays rep. But again there is no pressure to take these and if doing your own thing is what floats your boat then that is perfectly acceptable too.
My visit was short and so I didn’t have the opportunity to sample all that was on offer, but what I did do was a great eye opener for the variety of experiences that are available.
You can’t go to Turkey without visiting an authentic Turkish Bath. A short journey away was the lovely beach side village of Oludeniz where a morning was spent relaxing. You start with a brief sauna – I know it sounds bizarre given that you are already in a hot country – but the idea is to open up your pores and make your skin softer for the treatments ahead. You then get cleansed with some lukewarm water before lying on a warm marble slab where a fully trained hammam master scrubs and exfoliates your body, removing the dead skin. This is followed by a cleansing and relaxing warm foam massage.
By this time you are feeling suitably relaxed and ready for your body massage by a fully trained masseur, many different varieties are on offer – mine was a simple classic massage lasting 30 minutes. But boy was this relaxing in fact so relaxing that after it had finished as you are left to just relax and unwind I actually fell asleep.
But if a massage and Turkish Bath isn’t exciting enough for you then Oludeniz is also known as a centre for para-gliding, you see them circling the resort throughout the day and landing right on the promenade in front of the beach. Fancy a go? Well tandem rides are available – I was tempted but unfortunately we didn’t quite have the time!
Another highlight, and again it’s an organised trip, is to take a Sunset Cruise from the harbour of Fetiyhe. You cast off to sea late afternoon, and go out to one of the quiet secluded bays that are all over the coastline here where your boat moors up and where you watch the spectacular sunset, have a few beers, eat a barbecued meal on board and enjoy some twilight music. But the best part of this trip is that once the boat has moored up you are free to go for a swim before dinner.
In fact you are encouraged by the boat owners to do so – and what’s more you can launch yourself from the top deck of the boat into the crystal clear waters – try it, it’s great fun and just like jumping into a lukewarm bath, the water is that warm!
Continuing the boating theme, why not go on a day trip that incorporates a gentle cruise down a reed lined river which was where some of The African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart was filmed, see 2,500 year old mountain tombs carved into the cliff face, visit a sulphurous mud bath, covering yourself in the stuff, that is said to have age restorative properties and finish off with a visit to a fantastic beach that is simply quite stunning. This is Iztuzu Beach – but that probably doesn’t mean anything to you!
This is a peninsula beach at the head of the Dalyan River that is also known locally as Turtle Beach as by day it is populated by tourists who appreciate the sheer beauty of its setting, but by night it is occupied by a different population, and that is the endangered loggerhead turtles for whom the beach is an important and more importantly, protected nesting site. You never know, if you visit you might be lucky enough to see one of the turtles in the water – and trust me they are much bigger than you might think!
And it’s value for money!
The good thing about Turkey is that it’s relatively cheap compared to other countries. You will find that your pound goes a little further than in other countries so value for money is guaranteed.
In fact if you are a solo traveller, or considering taking the plunge for the first time, then this is an ideal holiday for you. You remain in charge, you decide what you want to do, you join in as much or as little as you want and you have company of like minded people. What else could you ask for?
A bit about Solos Holidays: Solos Holidays has been helping the solo traveller since 1982, and now offers a wide range of trips across the world, from Portugal to Poland and Tanzania to Turkey. A Solos Holidays’ Tour Leader will be present on each trip, to make sure everything runs smoothly and there are no single supplements. Groups are usually 10 people, but can reach 16 maximum.
A bit about the hotel: New for 2019, the three-star Kayaköy Boutique Hotel is nestled in southwest Turkey, just outside the tranquil and ancient village of Kayaköy, a short distance from the resort town of Hisaronu with its myriad of bars and restaurants. The hotel has colourful gardens, where breakfast can be taken and an inviting outdoor pool complete with sunbeds and umbrellas.
How much? A seven-night ClubSolos Holiday, staying at three-star Kayaköy Boutique Hotel, costs from £669pp (in a standard room, no single supplement) including return flights (London Gatwick to Dalaman), welcome drink and information meeting, accompanying Solos Tour Leader, breakfast every day and two dinners (including one BBQ) and a one half-day Gulet Excursion.
For more information: https://www.solosholidays.co.uk/